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It’s not the first time that I have been late to my own party.  It’s a full moon in Pisces… I’ve been lost swimming today.

Not literally swimming but I did get lost in another world.  Maybe it’s all just Pandora…the new perfume that I have been working on that came together to launch on the site today.  I’m still under it’s spell… so I think I will just be posting the artist statement that I had prepared for it.  After all, what else can I say? (I’m sure I’ll think if something. 😉 )

Pandora: A Beautiful Evil

The “Beautiful Evil” is a quote from the story of Pandora as told by the Greek, Hesiod.  She is the all gifted, all giving one, a singular woman and synonymous with Eve in many respects.  It is she who opens humankind to the knowledge of good and evil and ultimately breaks the utopian ideal.  With Pandora, mankind has plagues but also knowledge and maturity.  She opens the door to truth and hope.

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I first began this design as a ‘project’ scent that had very specific criteria.  The gist of the original “brief”  was to utilize only materials on a set list.  This list was comprised of numerous, relatively new materials available to the natural perfumer circa 2011.  From this somewhat limited palette (of all natural materials) I derived most of my inspiration for Pandora focusing on a new way of interpreting a classic accord, Mousse de Saxe, out of these ‘new’ materials.

Along the way, my focus changed and the original project fell away, which released me from all limitations.  It was at this point that the name changed along with my focus… and the final concept emerged: Pandora.  It expresses a new and an old energy; something ancient and modern, too.  There is something “retro” in the mousse de saxe reference but with the addition of oakmoss (not on the list) and some subtle aldehydes and ozone (also not on the list) it’s right here and now.

In the final design, I utilized 97.5% botanicals and a mere 2.5% synthetic content.  It is that last addition that polishes the whole and brings it into complete focus.  Amazingly, it’s the synthetics that turned out to be the ultimate catalyst, both creatively and aesthetically.

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The notes for DSH Pandora are :

Top: ruby fruits (botanical accord), bergamot, aldehyde, spice notes, ozone, violet leaf absolute, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper
Heart: rose de mai absolute, juhi jasmine, linden blossom absolute, yerba maté absolute, cabreuva wood, orris co2, green tea absolute
Base: mousse de saxe accord (botanical) , cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris tincture, patchouli co2, vetiver co2, muhuhu, australian sandalwood, tonka bean absolute, oakmoss green, vanilla absolute.

* the image is Odilon Redon’s “Pandora”.  Redon is one of my favorite artists and on going inspiration.  Image found here.

And for some really wonderful writing and reviews of Pandora, check out the following blogs:

eaumg
scent hive
indieperfumes
eyelineronacat blog
thisblogreallystinksperfume
perfumepharmer (with special guest David Lincoln Brooks)
esscentualalchemy

oh true apothecary

A HUGE thank you to everyone who showed up and wanted to support the first launch of Pandora! ❤ Much love to you all!!

ps: there’s a draw at the linked blogs for a 3 ml mini spray of Pandora EdP; be sure to leave a comment at all of the blogs to increase your chance of winning! hoo hoo! 🙂  *****We’re having a draw here as well, so please leave a comment to enter!***** the draw ends at 12 noon Sunday, September 18, 2011 (mountain time).

(and pps: We’ve also decided to do a little impromptu sale until the end of September: use member code “extra15” to get 15% off anything at the site!)

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The results of the judges are still trickling in so we’ll soon, VERY SOON, get the reveal: which perfumers are behind each of the, up to this point, numbered designs as well as where the ranking is.  Of course, we all have our fingers crossed for our labors of love.  One thing I do know at this point is that with such a diverse group of ‘patch test bunnies’ (aka judges) every perfume will find a lover; no one will be left behind.  And I am happy to report that just after listing my three designs on the site one kind sampler of the three has emailed to say that she has not only found the patchouli project scent she desires but perhaps her ‘holy grail’ patchouli perfume.  Of course, this makes me immensely happy.   Her choice?  Bodhisattva: my number 3 patchouli project perfume.

Bodhisattva was actually the very first concept that came after being asked to take part in the PLAP project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post about ‘PLAP’, I was having Indian food and drinking a lassi and thinking about patchouli when the first hit came: the home of patchouli is India.  And this lassi I’m drinking is sending me over the edge in swirls of creamy delicious glowing, orange-colored clouds.  It’s sublime.  I want to make a patchouli perfume that sails on clouds of divinity.  It’s spiritual and yet earthly.  Something or someone who has a foot in both worlds.  Then the Thangka image popped into my head.  Yes, like this: a patchouli perfume that smells like this *feels* to look at…exactly like what this image invokes.  That was where it started… the lassi, the Thangka (Tibetan) and India.  I chose nearly all the notes from traditional Ayurvedic / Indian perfumery and set out to create heavenly orange / red clouds swirling and billowing up with flowers that float down to rest on the soft earth of patchouli, sandalwood, incense and subtle spices.  Oh yes, and a little sparkle in the very top note like a gleam from a knowing eye.

The resultant perfume is a subtlely fruity floriental patchouli.  The fruity nuance is ‘plum-like’ and one of my favorite fruit notes to pair with patchouli.  (Did I mention that there are many perfume ‘precedents’ for the use of patchouli with plum?  and also peach?  Many great perfumes contain this ‘dialogue’ between these two notes. It was especially popular in the late ’70’s through the ’90’s.  Magie Noir by Lancome, Poison by Dior,  Nahema by Guerlain, and Feminite du Bois by Shiseido / Lutens all contain this juxtaposition to great effect).  The heart is redolent of champaca, orange blossom and centifolia with the base of the spiced wood and incense.   It has a creamy luminousness and a deep spiritual quality in the drydown while maintaining the theme of patchouli very well.  I also like to think it’s a graceful patchouli walking softly.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I personally love all three of my very different patchouli progeny.

image credit:   graceful wooden bodhisattva here ; bodhisattva thangka here  ; bodhisattva eyes here

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The judges have been steadily sending in their votes and soon, all will be revealed as to who is the nose behind which numbered bottles and we’ll all be able to talk more freely about our entries to this, for now, still secret project.  In the meantime, I have my two ‘alternate’ designs to talk about.  No surprise that I followed a winding creative path that produced three designs; there are just so many ideas that I *want* to do.  So, I just go.  (I’m currently brainstorming another project for this fall and I have 12  ideas  / 6 pages worth, so far,  in my notes.  No, I won’t do all of them, but I might end up with two or three again.  But that is for another time).  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Back to the project at hand: the patchouli project.  I mentioned in my last post about “PLAP”  that from the beginning I made the decision to go for the ‘soliflore’ concept (ie: make patchouli the focus and not to attempt to hide 25% patchouli in a design that accents some other family).   The coherent aspects to all three designs for me were: 1) the focus is on the patchouli and 2) these are summer patchoulis, so all have a lightness to them that make them wearable all year, even in summer.  That sense of  lightness is not exactly easy, as anyone who has worn patchouli oil can attest.  It’s got a strong character and its got weight.  Sadly, there are a number of people who do not wear straight patchouli oil very successfully and this gives patchouli a very bad name with perfume connoisseurs and passers-by alike.  When patchouli is not right, it’s REALLY not right.  This phenomenon goes like this: you smell sort of mildew-y.  The earthiness, kind of like dirt, can smell like a moldy basement  on certain skin types and this is, well, not pleasant.  Mix that with, how shall I put it?, overindulgence and potentially poor hygiene and you’ve got a BIG STINK going on.  This is what many people think ALL patchouli smells like.  Au contraire.  Patchouli, even worn straight/no mixer,  can be beautiful.  When it works ‘correctly’ on a person’s skin, it smells like mystery.  Like rich dark tea leaves mixed with soft, sexy smoke, and warm ambery wood.  Yes, you heard that right.  Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?  And it is; when it works.  Most people could smell good in patchouli if they wore it in a well designed fragrance.  It usually has to be tempered with other notes to consistently work on most people.  Sadly, many people are scared straight by straight patchouli.  Or they have ‘flashbacks’ of a sort, not good ones, from back in the day.  This brings me, to the concept anyway, of Aquarius (my no.2 design for PLAP).

I *didn’t* want to make a perfume that would be like a flashback to 1967, but I did get it into my head that a patchouli, kind of ‘human dirty / sweaty’ and sexy animalic might be fun to make.  This idea came after I had already started working on no.1 and no.3 but I thought, why not just go for it?  Go all the way…do a patchouli that pushes.  I’ll use all of the notes that many folks say are too sweaty, too far, that definitely steps beyond the pale. In other words: FUNK-AY. ( I won’t say the “s” word that so many people use to describe animalic / potentially fecal tonalities since I personally dislike that word…but that’s just me). Yeah, I’m talking in the genre of  patchouli meets Musc Kublai Khan (while using all botanicals, mind you, so synthetic musks and civet are out).

This is Aquarius.  And you know what?  What came from this “pushing the limits” process was something surprising: it’s soft.  Really.  It’s the heaviest of my summer patchouli designs, true, but it has a real warmth and richness that is inherent in patchouli and was coaxed out when I added the animalics.  Even the cumin (yeah, that’s right, I said cumin) works beautifully and I have yet to try it on anyone for whom the cumin sticks out or is reminiscent of curry.  I thought that with the use of so many strong notes: true ambergris,  tonquin musk tincture, cumin and other animalic botanicals, that this patchouli would be BOLD, but no.  To my nose and to everyone I’ve shown it to, it’s soft, warm and inviting.  The warm and inviting part, I was planning on but the softness…not really.  Go figure.  I love it just the same.

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NOTE: Aquarius is dedicated to two of the best people in my life (there are many, I am thankful to say; I am very fortunate and grateful for so many dear ones…): Marlena Yannetti, who was a member of the original cast of HAIR and my husband, E, who is not only a double aquarius* but a patchouli wearer from way back.  His skin does that wonderful warm, woody/ ambery / tea leaf thing I was talking about.  He is delicious.  I will have to send some Aquarius to Marlena and see what she thinks but I already know that Aquarius smells incredible on E.  Life is Good.

ANOTHER NOTE: All of my patchouli project explorations (no.1-no.3) are now up at my site,  but if you want to get in on the fun for the whole project, Skye has “PLAP sample boxes” on sale at her site.   Get ’em while supplies last, my friends.

JUST FOR FUN: for the *Aquarius in you… here’s some info about the astrological sign.

image credits:  patchouli drawing , hair record cover , magic forest image

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